On March 1, 2022, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released President Joe Biden’s 2022 Trade Agenda and 2021 Annual Report. The trade agenda highlights President Biden’s continued focus on a “worker-centered trade policy” by “promoting a broader agenda of fair competition to ensure that workers are competing on the basis of skills and creativity” and to “establish new, high-standard commitments on labor rights under our current and new frameworks for trade.” The agenda also summarizes USTR’s efforts to promote sustainable environmental practices in trade policy, to better enforce existing trade agreements, to create new opportunities for U.S. agriculture, to strengthen global supply chains, and to continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual agenda acknowledges that the U.S.-China trade relationship is “complex and competitive” and summarizes how the United States is realigning its trade policies to counter China’s unfair economic practices. These efforts include raising concerns directly with China and working more closely with U.S. allies to address shared challenges. The agenda specifically addresses China’s use of forced labor as an “extreme form of unfair competition” and states that the Biden administration “will continue holding China accountable for its use of state-sponsored forced labor and working with our trading partners to eradicate the use of forced labor throughout global supply chains. This includes continued implementation and enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.”
The 2022 agenda and the 2021 report both discuss USTR’s efforts to increase engagement with partners, allies, multilateral institutions and organizations to repair “strained relationships” and recommit the United States to international trade organizations. The report emphasizes the critical importance of bilateral trade agreement enforcement and the Biden administration’s actions so far to utilize trade policy as a tool to defend U.S. economic interests. The report specifically references continued implementation and enforcement of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) and its rapid response mechanism (RRM) process as an enforcement tool. It further notes that the United States has engaged with Canada and Mexico on a number of other trade issues, including efforts to ensure that U.S. agricultural products receive fair treatment, that the regulatory environment is fair and transparent, and that U.S. goods receive fair treatment. The report focuses on both the status of various trade agreements as well as a summary of recent trade enforcement activities.
The annual report also contains a lengthy section outlining the work of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2021, including the WTO Standing Committees and their subsidiary bodies, the WTO Negotiating Groups, the implementation and enforcement of the WTO Agreement, and accessions of new WTO members. The report specifically notes that the United States is “committed to the WTO” but supports much needed reform of the organization.
A fact sheet outlining key highlights of the report is available here.